The SPAR Proteas kept their title defence firmly on track with a second win at the Diamond Challenge netball tournament in Polokwane on Wednesday.
Botswana provided little challenge to the defending champions, who easily romped to an 83-16 victory – their biggest winning margin over their neighbours to date.
The visitors could only manage to slot in two goals in the first 15 minutes, and while the Proteas weren’t looking quite as smooth as usual, it allowed them to surge to a 19-2 lead by the first break. While things did improve slightly for Botswana after the break, they simply battled to keep up with the pace.
Once again coach Norma Plummer was able to give all her players plenty of court time, and try out some unusual combinations as her side continued to dominate in all areas of the game.
‘I just said to Botswana ”I’m sorry things were a bit tough, but there are things we’ve got to work on ahead of the Quad Series”. There’s some good talent in there. It’s just a matter of getting the opportunities,’ Plummer admitted after the match.
Plummer further commented on the team’s performance, ‘We had different structures we were working on, but in the first eight minutes they didn’t deliver very well. So at the end of the first quarter I told them they’d gone out and done everything I’d asked them not to do.
‘After that though it just became a short, sharp game with a lot of speed. I was very impressed – we’ve never played Lenize Potgieter out in front of Sigi Burger before – but these are the options we’ve got to have going into a World Championship. You never know when you might get an injury, and it just might be the move we need to win a game. So we have to take the opportunity to get as much out of these games as we can.’
Earlier in the afternoon, the SA President’s XII netball team also notched up their second win at the Ngoako Ramatlhodi Sports Complex. Having edged out Zambia in a closely contested opening game on Tuesday, the SA side’s second encounter against Namibia was a much less nerve-wracking one for coach Jenny van Dyk.
The home side dominated from the start, playing the first quarter at a furious pace to race out to a 20-9 lead. They simply built the lead from there to finish as 61-31 winners.
‘We felt better about everything, especially the first quarter. We were sinking those goals and the girls were connecting,’ explained SA President’s XII captain Jessica Khomo. ‘The coach’s instructions are very simple and very clear, so it was easy and we’re happy that we dominated from the start. Starting off strong definitely brought the morale and confidence up for the girls.’
They’ll certainly need that confidence on Thursday when the team of up-and-coming young stars take on the SPAR Proteas in their next match.
‘It’s going to be a very tough one. We respect the Proteas because they are our first team in the country, but we aren’t going to sit back for that,’ said Khomo. ‘We are here to grow and get game time and get that international experience, so it’s fantastic to be able to play with a team of that calibre and we’re not going to take it lightly.’
Day 2 results:
SPAR Proteas beat Botswana 83-16
Zambia beat Zimbabwe 57-51
Presidents XII beat Namibia 61-31
Photo: Proteas goal shooter focused on the ball during their match against Bostwana, by Reg Caldecott